Feb 01 2009

Frank Murdock’s Review Forum

Published by at 12:13 pm under Review Forums

Please see the comments below.

17 responses so far

17 Responses to “Frank Murdock’s Review Forum”

  1. Frankon 01 Feb 2009 at 12:14 pm

    I have a book I have been working on for a few years now and would like some critique on my prologue. I’m not really sure of how a prologue is to be executed, but do know what I like in one. I tried to write mine in a manner that draws curiosity and compels the reader to want to continue. I believe I have done that, but I guess I’m nervous about what a publisher might think. Thanks in advance.

  2. Ragged Boyon 01 Feb 2009 at 12:14 pm

    Sure, we’re generally welcome to forms all writing. You can submit it here if you like. Alternatively, if you find another article that is more suitable to a prologue feel free to post it there.

    B. Mac, Davis, and Jacob are the heads honchos, but we’re all generally skilled writers. So, whenever you’re ready.

  3. Frankon 01 Feb 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Okay, here it is. The title of the book is “The Black Circle”. A quick synopsis of the tale is that a group of heroes are gathered together by manipulations to fight an evil that threatens all of creation. While the greater story is about siding with one evil to defeat a greater evil, the individual characters are involved in supplemental sub-plots that directly affect them on personal levels.
    I am going for a sort of novelized comicbook in the vain of Wildcards.
    Thanks for any input.

    /FM

    The Black Circle

    Prologue

    Like a guard he stood staring silently out into the eternal twighlight that had fallen over the cold February skyline of Chicago. His dark gray eyes seemed focused on something distant which lay beyond that of the rooftop patio, beyond the city skyline, something beyond human comprehension or understanding.
    Snow fell against the patio door as the heat from within melted it away flake by flake. He stood apart from the ghostly figure that was his reflection gazing back at him. The black Venetian suit he wore was custom cut and complimented by equally exquisite accessories.
    His silk tie was of a majestic violet as was the hanker-chief in his breast pocket. His shirt was made of the finest silk and his Italian shoes shined with regal authority. He was as Caesar before the fall.
    The proud and dignified figure reached out to touch his appirition, but halted as a glitter of light sparked dazzling brilliance from off the gold nugget he wore upon his ring finger. He gazed at the ring for a moment as blood streamed from beneath its lion-head engraving. His eyes grew moist as he watched the ruby fluid run like a river of guilt down his hand; soaking the sleeve of his conservative apparel. A tear rolled down his cheek as he clenched his fist causing the blood to squelch in his grip and spit from between his fingers.
    Turning from his reflection, his black shoes sank deep into lavender plush as he walked across its depths, passing between Victorian chairs and couches that decorated its mosaic space. The thick purple carpet contrasted with gray, burgundy, and violet paints that specked the walls of the penthouse interior. Along its furthest wall hung a large Persian rug flanked by a pair of finely crafted scimitars; items he had obtained from a museum curator some years back. Massive bookshelves lined the walls filled with works of all sizes, topics, and languages. Among their titles sat The Talmud, The Koran, and The Holy Bible: none of which he had personally read, but knew to be more than philosophical mythologies. A Roman short sword lay unsheathed on a bookshelf beside a small wooden cup that was featureless, but questionably out of place. His eyes had centered on the cup . . . it was almost time. Reaching out to seize the ancient vessel, he had found that the blood had gone from his hand once again, but it would be back. It would never stop.
    With the small wooden item in hand, he crossed the purple plain to the bar that sat to the left side of the living room. He gently placed it upon the polished oak counter of the bar where sat a Roman Centurion helmet. He then turned and washed his hands of the returning stream of blood in an adjacent sink. Then he crouched down below the counter and searched for something he had placed there earlier. Within seconds he rose to his feet with a large, thin, dusty bottle, which he sat upon the dirt free counter.
    “Ahhh…” He exhaled as he toweled down its dusty exterior. “A bottle of Constantinopolitan vintage…” He murmured aloud as if having an audience, “and blessed by the Pope too!” His tongue swimming in sarcasm as he drove the metal corkscrew through the bottle’s ancient plug.
    The cork popped. The pungent scent of bittersweet fermentation rose up from the bottles mouth. It’s just amazing what the Church is willing to sacrifice for a donation. He thought as he sniffed the bottles stopper.
    Reaching for the wooden cup, He began to pour the rich, blood-red wine into its handcrafted reservoir. The fluid rose to a point just below its rim before he drew back the bottles mouth. Re-stopping the ancient vintage, he crossed the room and returned to his position before the patio doors.
    A scowl marred his face as his eyes fell upon the movement of pedestrians many stories below. He watched as they moved about disgruntled and unorganized like so many frantic ants on a kicked anthill. His eyes followed the ever changing pin sized patchwork as he considered how small they were from this great height . . . how impersonal . . . how unaware. A slight grin broke his scowl as he raised an eyebrow to that fleeting thought and then lifted his goblet in conjunction.
    “Hmmm, what is next my Lord?” he asked aloud. “Will the Church sell them salvation from the fiery depths of damnation too? Oh, excuse me, but they do that already do they not?”
    His eyes focused skyward as he stood at full attention and tipped the wooden cup to his lips and sipped of its contents.
    “Will they then sell to me also my lord?” he murmured, wiping a thin trace of fermented moisture from his lower lip.
    His glance once again returned to that of his quasi-phantom reflection on the window’s dark expanse. Thoughts of a hundred lifetimes flooded his mind as he searched the lines of temporal age that marked his current host. The Centurion Armour of the Empire collected on this form and with that visage the pride of a time long lost. Moisture welled up in his eyes at the very thought of his loss . . . a loss due to a mistake: a mistake out of duty: out of ignorance: a mistake that was judged unforgivable. The tear finally broke and scurried down his jaw-line. His mind was confused by the passions of his bewildered heart, but this was quickly thrust into a maelstrom of melancholicaly erupted emotion as his eyes focus through blurred vision to that of the returning blood.
    “Damn you to hell!” he grunted as he clenched his fist tight causing a bit of the guilt to spatter upon his brow. His eyes filled with tears as the flow of blood increased and began to pour forth from his arm, rushed like a stream on a down hill current, an increased curse of widening eternal guilt that echoed the actions of past judgment that would never permit his repression, never allow for nothing short of predetermined apocalyptic salvation. This metaphysical manifestation tore through the very being of his immortal psyche, pushing him to the limits of sheer and total madness, but never allowing for him to fully embrace that, which would be preferred to the hell that forever torments his ancient soul.
    Blood filled the violet expanse of the room and splashed hard against the penthouse parameter. Like dancers raising their arms in pleading ritualism, the scarlet tide splashed upward and drew back as gravity displayed evidence of past groping made in vain. It gushed forth with unfathomable impossibility as it pushed forward and up like some perverted flood of despair erupting from the bowels of Hell itself. The walls darkened as great waves of illusory biology crashed against them and engulf the mirrored canopy they supported. Three-thousand square feet of expanse were condensed to that of his skull as a rain of anguish ran red over him while he grasped by reflex and drowned beneath the rising deluge from which he had birthed. He gasped for air, reached for whatever salvation he could marshal and knew the futility of his actions. His head pounded with the sound of the speed and thunder of a thousand chariots riding into some long forgotten battle. He grasped his head as it erupted into an explosion of infinite proportions, which broke him from his panic and dropped him to his knees.
    “NO!” he cried aloud. Tears streamed his face in torrents resembling the spring floods of the ancient Jordan. The pain in his skull was unbearable beyond measure. His hands clamped tight about his head in an attempt to hold back any increase of pain, but his efforts were all in vain as his body fell lifeless to the floor. The nervous twitches of final death throes were brief as his body became limp leaving his eyes staring forward with lifeless indignation.
    Lightening whipped across the city skyline as crashing thunder echoed the change of pelting snow to that of stinging rain. Red wine pooled from a wooden cup onto the dark ocean of velvet carpeting as the angry heavens pounded down around the building’s exterior. The dead man lay beside the desecration bearing a contradictive peculiarity upon his face. The undeniable look of contempt and an unnerving satisfaction seemed to carry over the grin that marked his expression.
    Outside the storm raged as if the depths of the Abyss had been torn open and cast out into the world. Thunder shook the midwest skies like a million freight trains racing across the black and gray heavens of the night. Lightening flashed bright, delivering a strike that shook the city with enough percussive force to suggest it had been delivered by the gods themselves. The night’s scorn delivered the tempest as if it had been born of the dankest pits of Hell. Its ferocity seemed as unrelenting as it did inexhaustible: the storm showed no signs of ending anytime soon….

  4. Ragged Boyon 01 Feb 2009 at 12:15 pm

    I haven’t read it yet, but I can tell you now you now that this is pretty long for a prologue. I’ll read it and try to give some insight.

  5. Ragged Boyon 01 Feb 2009 at 12:15 pm

    I must say your writing is excellent, your level of description and intriging allusions to aspects of Eurasian history made this a fun and intersting read. My favorite allusion by far, was the one to Indulgence, buying your way to heaven. One major concern, if this is your prologue, I’m not sure how does this ties to the story?

    I can kind of get the idea of the evil, but not really. Will there be an in-story explanation to this event? Does everyone has this curse of immortality? When he says “Damn you to hell” I’m guessing that “you” in the major villian that threatens all of creation, so that’s one tie.

    Overall, I think this could work as a prologue it’s gripping and give a little insight to the story itself. I feel it’s a bit long, but personally, I didn’t mind reading it, I suspect it won’t hurt your publishability to have it.

    I think the premise of your story is a very fresh twist on the usual group together and fght a major evil.

    Quran is spelled this way.

    I’m surprised at myself, this piece had alot of alternative words and allusions, yet I understood it very well. I’m 17, so I’m proud I assimilated all that knowledge.

    Again, amazing writing skills.

  6. B. Macon 01 Feb 2009 at 12:16 pm

    In summary:
    –It’s not very clear what’s going on. The story doesn’t explain the supernatural elements quickly enough, I feel.
    –You have a very careful eye for scenery and detail, but I would recommend drawing those details into the story more. Try to have the character interact with the scenery more.
    –Some of the language, particularly towards the end, is very dense.
    –I love the town! Being from Chicago myself, I can definitely picture the total greyness of February. It very much feels like hell.
    –In this scene, this character was not very engaging.
    –This scene might feel easier to digest if there were a second person in this scene. Maybe someone from Hell coming to collect?

    Detailed version:

    –”I am going for a sort of novelized comic book in the vein of Wildcards.” When you say novelized comic book, do you mean like a superhero novel? I know Wildcards was mainly a set of superhero novels but it also had a short-lived comic series, so I’d just like to make sure.

    Here are a few observations about the prologue itself…
    –The use of pronouns in the first few paragraphs is a bit awkward. I’d recommend working in the character’s name as soon as possible.
    –There’s a lot of use of color in the first two paragraphs (“dark gray eyes,” “black Venetian suit,” “majestic violet”).
    –”twighlight” should probably be “twilight,” I think.
    –”Snow fell against the patio door as the heat from within melted it away flake by flake.” Necessary? I don’t think the detail does very much to develop the character or explain what he’s doing there.
    –There are a lot of details about his clothes… between the black Venetian suit and the majestic violet and the hankerchief and the silk shirt and the shining Italian shoes, I think a bit of it could be removed.
    –appirition should be apparition, I think.
    –”reached out to touch his apparition.” This action strikes me as a bit odd.
    –Why did his hand start bleeding? I think this is supernatural in some way, so it might help to be a bit more explicit at least the first time the supernatural comes up.
    –In the room with the cup, I feel the scenery is very dense and ornamental. “Victorian chairs and couches that decorated its mosaic space. The thick purple carpet contrasted with gray, burgundy, and violet paints that specked the walls of the penthouse interior. Along its furthest wall hung a large Persian rug flanked by a pair of finely crafted scimitars; items he had obtained from a museum curator some years back.” Those details don’t really advance the plot, and the character doesn’t interact with them. In contrast, I think the holy books do advance the plot and they show us something about the character. “A Roman short sword lay unsheathed…” this doesn’t add much here, but I suspect that it’s being introduced now so that it can be used later.

    “with the small wooden item in hand” could be shortened to “holding the cup.”

    –Constantinopolitan vintage could probably be shortened to Constantine or Constantinian vintage.
    –”A bottle of Constantantinopolitan vintage…” he murmured aloud as if having an audience, “and blessed by the Pope too!”… The narrator notes how odd it sounds for him to talk like this when he doesn’t have an audience, but that doesn’t make it any less odd. If this information is vital to the story, then I would recommend either having the narrator deliver it or having the narrator show it through the character’s eyes.
    –”Reaching for the wooden cup, He began…” I don’t think he should be capitalized.

    –OK, at this point I’ve been through 600 words of the story, about 2 pages and change. I don’t know much about this character except that he’s excessively wealthy and might be supernatural in some way.
    –I don’t know what’s at stake.
    –The main character has not yet proven himself to be very stylish or likable. It’s hard to be stylish out of conversation, but you could at least give him some witty/amusing/sardonic/whatever observations through the narrator.

    OK, back to the story…
    –”bottles mouth” should probably be “bottle’s mouth”, I think.
    –There are a lot of adjectives.
    –The story frequently explains actions that aren’t really necessary to the flow of the story, I think. For example, “Re-stopping the ancient vintage” and “Reaching for the wooden cup.” If the guy pours the wine, I think we can infer that he took the cup into his hand.
    –”they do that already do they not?” I have a few issues here. First, this medieval syntax is a bit hard on my eyes (please see #4 here). Second, I think there should be a comma after already. Third, historically speaking I don’t think the Church sells indulgences anymore.

    –Given that the character tends to spend a lot of time talking to his lord and presumably is not just idly praying, it might help if his lord was actually physically present in this scene. I think that would make the supernatural elements more clear and could help you develop the main character in an interesting way.
    –the word “melancholicaly” looks odd. I’ve never seen melancholy used as an adverb. Maybe “morosely” or “gloomily” would fit in better.
    –”his glance once again returned…” I think that “glance” might be smoother as “gaze” here. However, this whole phrase could probably be smoother as something like “He glanced back at his…” I think that’s a bit less overwrought.
    –I think the story gets a bit hard to read when he starts reminiscing about the very thought of his loss. I’m not sure what he’s lost, exactly, so I see a lot of raw emotions but I don’t know the reason behind any of them. In that context, I found phrases like these kind of disconcerting and hard to read: “the passions of his bewildered heart… a maelstrom of melancholicaly erupted emotion… causing a bit of the guilt to spatter through his brow… that would never permit his repression, never allow for nothing short of predetermined apocalyptic salvation. The metaphysical manifestation tore through the very being of his immortal psyche.”
    –”as his eyes focus through…” I think focus should be focused there.
    –As he gets deeper into his emotions, his sentences get really long and his vocabulary becomes more advanced. I think I could handle either one of these developments, but together I think they make the passage very difficult to get through. For example, these two sentences… “His eyes filled with tears as the flow of blood increased and began to pour forth from his arm, rushed like a stream on a down hill current, an increased curse of widening eternal guilt that echoed the actions of past judgment that would never permit his repression, never allow for nothing short of predetermined apocalyptic salvation. This metaphysical manifestation tore through the very being of his immortal psyche, pushing him to the limits of sheer and total madness, but never allowing for him to fully embrace that, which would be preferred to the hell that forever torments his ancient soul.” Umm, I’m having a bit of trouble understanding the literal meaning of those sentences. Here, I’ll try to translate… 1) He’s crying as blood is pouring from his arm. “curse of widening eternal guilt that echoed the actions of past judgment that would never permit his repression…” not sure. “never allow for nothing [anything] short of predetermined apocalyptic salvation…” not sure.
    Sentence two: “This metaphysical manifestation tore through the very being of his immortal psyche…” The only thing I understand here is that he’s immortal. I don’t know what the metaphysical manifestation is. “…pushing him to the limits of sheer and total madness…” OK, I get this. “…but never allowing for him to fully embrace that, which would be preferred to the hell that forever torments his ancient soul.” I think “that” refers to total madness, but it’s not clear.
    –I’d really recommend breaking these long sentences into shorter clauses and trying to avoid overly wonkish language like “metaphysical manifestation.”

    –Tense issues. “forever torments his ancient soul” should probably be “tormented,” I think.
    –There’s a lot of crying here.
    –There are a few more phrases that I think could maybe be toned down: “pleading ritualism,” “unfathomable impossibility,” “illusory biology,” “contradictive peculiarity…”
    –”had birthed” should probably be “was born,” I think.
    –Lightening should probably be lightning, I think.

  7. Frankon 01 Feb 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Ragged Boyon 01 wrote:
    I must say your writing is excellent, your level of description and intriging allusions to aspects of Eurasian history made this a fun and intersting read.

    Thanks /FM

    My favorite allusion by far, was the one to Indulgence, buying your way to heaven. One major concern, if this is your prologue, I’m not sure how does this ties to the story?

    The story involves lots of mystical backdrop in the modern world. Imagine Lovecraft now. And yes, it ties in very promenently into the story; but as elusive as it is I was gearing for that as to drop clues throughout the story in regards to the characters identity. I’d state it now, but I guess I’d like to surprise people here as I work out the kinks in the story on this site. This appears to be the very sort of place I’ve been looking for as both audiance and peer review for my piece.

    I can kind of get the idea of the evil, but not really. Will there be an in-story explanation to this event?

    Yes. /FM
    Does everyone has this curse of immortality?
    No. /FM:
    When he says “Damn you to hell” I’m guessing that “you” in the major villian that threatens all of creation, so that’s one tie.
    Ummm. No. The character is talking to God. I attempted to build the religious tones in the piece by describing the articles in the room and depiction of the character. Perhaps I need to develop this more.

    Overall, I think this could work as a prologue it’s gripping and give a little insight to the story itself. I feel it’s a bit long, but personally, I didn’t mind reading it, I suspect it won’t hurt your publishability to have it.

    Thanks. imo it is necessary to set the stage for the events that unfold. Again, I was attempting to create a mood – dark, depressed, supernatural.

    I think the premise of your story is a very fresh twist on the usual group together and fght a major evil.

    Thanks. To further clarify the premis – there is what most might consider a villain setting out to destroy the world. He has his reasons for doing so and feels justified in his actions. In some respects he is depending on your religious beliefs.
    The character, the one in the prologue, stumbles upon dark forces that have their own plans for the world. This new threat threatens the initial villain’s plans in many ways so he gathers together a number of “heroes” to stop this new menace. Because he is a “villain” he leads the “heroes” to the new menace through manipulation and of coarse, leaving out his intentions for the world.
    There are other Immortals in the story, but not many. If all goes well and I do not run into any unforseen obsticles, there should only be two who work as gamers in the background of humanity moving people around like chess pieces to bring about their own ends. This is in an effort to capitalize on conspiracy theories that there is a few very powerful people in the world that control the rest of us through these same devices.
    I have done a lot of research to find things like true world conspiracy theories, current events, real world myths, and the comicbook genre to map out my story. The toughest part I’ve run into is going back and assimulating things like description of flora and such for background. I have the plot and the characters done, now it’s a matter of adding in mood and artistic style. I guess I’d like to suggest my style is in the flavor of somewhere between Anne Rice (description) and verbage (Lovecraft) with a dash of Louise Lamour (characterization and backdrop). I’m not trying to immitate these folks, but rather they probably influence me due to the sheer magnitude of material I have read by them.

    Quran is spelled this way.

    Thanks. /FM

    I’m surprised at myself, this piece had alot of alternative words and allusions, yet I understood it very well. I’m 17, so I’m proud I assimilated all that knowledge.

    I am too. It means I did not lose my audiance. /FM

    Again, amazing writing skills.
    Thanks again. I look forward to having you critique my work.

  8. Frankon 01 Feb 2009 at 12:23 pm

    B. Macon wrote:
    In summary:
    –It’s not very clear what’s going on.

    I wanted it to be that way. The element of mystery created by hints and pieces of information that raises the question of “who is this guy?”

    The story doesn’t explain the supernatural elements quickly enough, I feel.
    Again, I want to hint at the supernatural not outwardly shove it into the face of the reader. In some respects I want the reader to question if this is the supernaural at work or is this charcter delusional. I guess in some ways I have managed to do this with you because it does not appear by your awesome feedback that I lost you… too much. :-)

    –You have a very careful eye for scenery and detail, but I would recommend drawing those details into the story more. Try to have the character interact with the scenery more.

    Hmmm. Thanks, no one has ever suggested that before. I’ll keep that in mind during my next draft.

    –Some of the language, particularly towards the end, is very dense.
    I was reading a lot of Lovecraft at the time of this writing. Blame the master of the macabre.

    –I love the town! Being from Chicago myself, I can definitely picture the total greyness of February. It very much feels like hell.
    Thanks, I was hoping to send at the very least a shiver to the audiance.

    –In this scene, this character was not very engaging.
    I’m not sure I wanted him to be as engaging as much as I wanted him to bring an element of inquery/mystery to the story’s opening.

    –This scene might feel easier to digest if there were a second person in this scene. Maybe someone from Hell coming to collect?
    Oh, that would be too stereotypic. This character has much bigger problems than some demon or Satan owning his soul.

    Detailed version:
    –”I am going for a sort of novelized comic book in the vein of Wildcards.” When you say novelized comic book, do you mean like a superhero novel? I know Wildcards was mainly a set of superhero novels but it also had a short-lived comic series, so I’d just like to make sure.

    A Superhero novel. /FM

    Here are a few observations about the prologue itself…
    –The use of pronouns in the first few paragraphs is a bit awkward. I’d recommend working in the character’s name as soon as possible.

    If this were a story in and of itself I would agree with you, but it is not. It is mearly the Prologue to a bigger piece.

    –There’s a lot of use of color in the first two paragraphs (”dark gray eyes,” “black Venetian suit,” “majestic violet”).
    –There are a lot of details about his clothes… between the black Venetian suit and the majestic violet and the hankerchief and the silk shirt and the shining Italian shoes, I think a bit of it could be removed.

    Too much? I was trying to create mood through imagery. I am blind, so such imagery is important to me. Is this too over the top for the average reader? I guess I was looking to create the imagery of royalty and/or high prominence from an era long past intertwined with the modern age, hence color and pricy attire.

    –”Snow fell against the patio door as the heat from within melted it away flake by flake.” Necessary? I don’t think the detail does very much to develop the character or explain what he’s doing there.

    The outside weather is important because of the change at the end. When the story opens it is very cold. When the prologue closes the weather outside has turned to rain and thunder storms. This is relevant throughout the story.

    –”reached out to touch his apparition.” This action strikes me as a bit odd.
    He is an odd character. But to be a little more serious, he is reminissing. Perhaps I am weird, but when I had my sight I found myself doing this a lot as I would often gaze at my reflection in glass as I looked outside. I used the word apparition because of the ghost-like visage that such a reflection creates.

    –Why did his hand start bleeding? I think this is supernatural in some way, so it might help to be a bit more explicit at least the first time the supernatural comes up.
    Again, hints – mystery. It must have worked because you are wondering. :-)

    –In the room with the cup, I feel the scenery is very dense and ornamental. “Victorian chairs and couches that decorated its mosaic space. The thick purple carpet contrasted with gray, burgundy, and violet paints that specked the walls of the penthouse interior. Along its furthest wall hung a large Persian rug flanked by a pair of finely crafted scimitars; items he had obtained from a museum curator some years back.” Those details don’t really advance the plot, and the character doesn’t interact with them.

    No, but it creates some idea of the character’s personality. I am sure that if I looked around your home or bedroom I would be able to get some idea of what you are into at the very least. Again, I was looking to create mood and indirectly develop the character.
    In contrast, I think the holy books do advance the plot and they show us something about the character. “A Roman short sword lay unsheathed…” this doesn’t add much here, but I suspect that it’s being introduced now so that it can be used later.
    Yes./FM

    “with the small wooden item in hand” could be shortened to “holding the cup.”
    Perhaps. I see your point. /FM

    –Constantinopolitan vintage could probably be shortened to Constantine or Constantinian vintage.
    Thanks. That seemed awkward to me too. /FM

    –”A bottle of Constantantinopolitan vintage…” he murmured aloud as if having an audience, “and blessed by the Pope too!”… The narrator notes how odd it sounds for him to talk like this when he doesn’t have an audience, but that doesn’t make it any less odd. If this information is vital to the story, then I would recommend either having the narrator deliver it or having the narrator show it through the character’s eyes.
    Hmmm. I’m confused. Can you provide an example of what you mean? Again, I may be weird, but I occassionally talk to myself out loud. I have witnessed countless others perform this same act. The only difference here is that this character is talking to God itself, which I have heard others pray aloud. He finds it weird in that he is not praying, but rather having a casual conversation. Although I do not outwardly say that he is talking to God, I had hoped that a reader might surmize this or if not, find out when I introduce the character again in the book and drop the ax on who he is.

    –OK, at this point I’ve been through 600 words of the story, about 2 pages and change. I don’t know much about this character except that he’s excessively wealthy and might be supernatural in some way.
    Good. I have done my job conveying these things to you. That is two readers who are on board with my delivery.

    –I don’t know what’s at stake.
    Good. I do not want to give it away yet.

    –The main character has not yet proven himself to be very stylish or likable. It’s hard to be stylish out of conversation, but you could at least give him some witty/amusing/sardonic/whatever observations through the narrator.
    I wanted the narrator to be nuetral. I wanted the reader to make up his or her own mind about the character at this point. Again, this prologue is to build suspense or at the very least drop the mystery bomb on the reader so he or she will want to continue reading the story.

    –The story frequently explains actions that aren’t really necessary to the flow of the story, I think. For example, “Re-stopping the ancient vintage” and “Reaching for the wooden cup.” If the guy pours the wine, I think we can infer that he took the cup into his hand.
    I guess I was trying to demonstrate the maticulousness of the character. Since I have already said he is an immortal, I guess it would be safe to say that he has all the time in the world. For me, by writing this small insignifigent stuff out, I demonstrate his leisure. But you may be right. I’ll consider removing it. Thanks. /FM

    –”they do that already do they not?” I have a few issues here. First, this medieval syntax is a bit hard on my eyes (please see #4 here).
    I read that article, thanks. It’s not something that will be used a lot in the story since this character does not want everyone to know he is immortal. However, it is a slight piece of characterization for the reader to nibble on as he or she questions who this individual might be. Even the greatest actor in the world slips up once in a while.

    Second, I think there should be a comma after already. Third, historically speaking I don’t think the Church sells indulgences anymore.
    Probably not. It was sarcasm.

    –Given that the character tends to spend a lot of time talking to his lord and presumably is not just idly praying, it might help if his lord was actually physically present in this scene. I think that would make the supernatural elements more clear and could help you develop the main character in an interesting way.
    I want to stick with the idea that God never makes itself appear to anyone, not even Satan. God is everywhere and hence does not need to perform parlor tricks such as manifestations. I appreciate the input though.

    –the word “melancholicaly” looks odd. I’ve never seen melancholy used as an adverb. Maybe “morosely” or “gloomily” would fit in better.
    You are right. I definately need to change that.

    –I think the story gets a bit hard to read when he starts reminiscing about the very thought of his loss. I’m not sure what he’s lost, exactly, so I see a lot of raw emotions but I don’t know the reason behind any of them. In that context, I found phrases like these kind of disconcerting and hard to read: “the passions of his bewildered heart… a maelstrom of melancholicaly erupted emotion… causing a bit of the guilt to spatter through his brow… that would never permit his repression, never allow for nothing short of predetermined apocalyptic salvation. The metaphysical manifestation tore through the very being of his immortal psyche.”
    To be disclosed later. Again, more build up.

    –As he gets deeper into his emotions, his sentences get really long and his vocabulary becomes more advanced. I think I could handle either one of these developments, but together I think they make the passage very difficult to get through. For example, these two sentences… “His eyes filled with tears as the flow of blood increased and began to pour forth from his arm, rushed like a stream on a down hill current, an increased curse of widening eternal guilt that echoed the actions of past judgment that would never permit his repression, never allow for nothing short of predetermined apocalyptic salvation. This metaphysical manifestation tore through the very being of his immortal psyche, pushing him to the limits of sheer and total madness, but never allowing for him to fully embrace that, which would be preferred to the hell that forever torments his ancient soul.” Umm, I’m having a bit of trouble understanding the literal meaning of those sentences. Here, I’ll try to translate… 1) He’s crying as blood is pouring from his arm. “curse of widening eternal guilt that echoed the actions of past judgment that would never permit his repression…” not sure. “never allow for nothing [anything] short of predetermined apocalyptic salvation…” not sure.
    Sentence two: “This metaphysical manifestation tore through the very being of his immortal psyche…” The only thing I understand here is that he’s immortal. I don’t know what the metaphysical manifestation is. “…pushing him to the limits of sheer and total madness…” OK, I get this. “…but never allowing for him to fully embrace that, which would be preferred to the hell that forever torments his ancient soul.” I think “that” refers to total madness, but it’s not clear.
    –I’d really recommend breaking these long sentences into shorter clauses and trying to avoid overly wonkish language like “metaphysical manifestation.”
    You picked up everything correctly. The blood however is the manifestation. The blood reminds him of the situation that brings on the guilt. I can’t say more without giving away who the character is.

    –There’s a lot of crying here.
    Yes, it is playing more into the depression and sadness I want the reader to take on.

    –There are a few more phrases that I think could maybe be toned down: “pleading ritualism,” “unfathomable impossibility,” “illusory biology,” “contradictive peculiarity…”
    Again, it is mood building. Damn Lovecraftian influence.

    Thanks again for your input. I look forward to receiving further feedback from you as I develop this tale.
    /FM

  9. Holliequon 01 Feb 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Just throwing in my two cents here. I really think this prologue is TOO full of mystery. That doesn’t really encourage me to read on, that makes me think the whole book is going to be difficult to work out. I read a lot and if there weren’t any other books I wanted to buy, I’d get it anyway. But I think most people my age (I’m 16) wouldn’t want to read this. Just a thought. What’s your target audience?

  10. Frank Murdockon 01 Feb 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Holliequon 01 wrote:
    Just throwing in my two cents here. I really think this prologue is TOO full of mystery. That doesn’t really encourage me to read on, that makes me think the whole book is going to be difficult to work out. I read a lot and if there weren’t any other books I wanted to buy, I’d get it anyway. But I think most people my age (I’m 16) wouldn’t want to read this. Just a thought. What’s your target audience?

    Hmmm target audiance would be anyone that enjoys comics. Of coarse I like comics that have depth and some complexity such as those written by Alan Moore and Willingham. So perhaps I’d have to say ature audiances of 18 or older.

    But that’s okay. Your input is noted and appreciated. The adult situations and depictions of violence may not be appropriate for younger audiances anyways. Not that I subscribe to the movie rating scales for the identification of maturity, but it is something to take into consideration.
    Thanks,

    /FM

  11. Cadet Davison 01 Feb 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Hiya.

    B. MAC: It’s not very clear what’s going on.
    FRANK: I wanted it to be that way. The element of mystery created by hints and pieces of information that raises the question of “who is this guy?”
    –It might be more intriguing if we knew more about this character. Right now, I feel like the story is being too coy with the reader. For example, why don’t we know what the character’s name is? We’re being set up for some big reveal, where we learn the main character is really Jesus or Dracula or something, but right now it is very awkward not to have a name to refer to the character as.

    B. MAC: Why did his hand start bleeding? I think this is supernatural, so it might help to be a bit more explicit at least the first time the supernatural comes up.
    FRANK: Again, hints – mystery. It must have worked because you are wondering.
    –I think B. Mac is wondering because he will probably spend tens of hours reviewing this work (he’s our main reviewer) and would like to know what’s going on. I don’t think a publisher will be as patient. More than 90% of manuscripts get rejected before the end of the first chapter. If a story hasn’t established that it’s going anywhere within a few pages, it’s dead on arrival. :-(

    –Instead of Constantinopolitan or Constantine, what would you think about Roman or Etruscan? I think those have the same old-world flair but are easier to read.

    B. MAC: I’ve been through 600 words of the story, about 2 pages and change. I don’t know much about this character except that he’s wealthy and might be supernatural.
    FRANK: Good. I have done my job conveying these things to you. That is two readers who are on board with my delivery.
    –He’s on board with your delivery? I think what B. Mac’s trying to say is that we’re being shown too little about this character too late.

    B. MAC: I don’t know what’s at stake.
    FRANK: Good. I do not want to give it away yet.
    –On one hand, I wouldn’t want you to rush out the main plot just yet. On the other hand, I think it’s critical to give the character some purpose, something to do. Right now, it doesn’t feel urgent or focused. An intermediate objective might suffice. For example, in Harry Potter, Harry had to deal with his obnoxious relatives before he found out that his main objective was to go to Hogwarts and defeat Voldemort. I think an intermediate objective might help give the character something to do before he has to go off and do whatever the main quest is. (You might find this article helpful).

    B. MAC: I think the story gets a bit hard to read when he starts reminiscing about the very thought of his loss. I’m not sure what he’s lost, exactly, so I see a lot of raw emotions but I don’t know the reason behind any of them…
    FRANK: To be disclosed later. Again, more build up.
    –Readers might get annoyed that the story is coy with them. There doesn’t seem to be any in-story reason to withhold this information from the readers. The main character knows this information but is holding it back for no apparent reason. This goes to audience interest. I would recommend giving us enough that we care about his backstory. Right now, I don’t know enough to care. I just feel really confused. I would probably have put this back on the shelf towards the end of page 1. (Most novel manuscripts are rejected by the end of the first paragraph).

    B. MAC: As he gets deeper into his emotions, his sentences get really long and his vocabulary becomes more advanced.
    –I’d recommend toning down the Lovecraft a bit. Some of these sentences were pretty convoluted.

  12. Frank Murdockon 01 Feb 2009 at 7:09 pm

    Hiya.
    Hi. /FM
    B. MAC: It’s not very clear what’s going on.
    FRANK: I wanted it to be that way. The element of mystery created by hints and pieces of information that raises the question of “who is this guy?”
    –It might be more intriguing if we knew more about this character. Right now, I feel like the story is being too coy with the reader. For example, why don’t we know what the character’s name is? We’re being set up for some big reveal, where we learn the main character is really Jesus or Dracula or something, but right now it is very awkward not to have a name to refer to the character as.

    Hmmm. That is tough to work out. I mean, to provide a name would give away the surprise to the reader in chapter six where his identity is revealed. My supposition was that thePrologue is to raise inquery and draw the reader in with mystery. Is this wrong or are you suggesting I have too much mystery? I’m not trying to be difficult here nor am I unintelligent. I’m just having difficulty in finding the lne where I provide the reader with enough information to find interest and still keep him wondering who the character is in the Prologue. This is the primary reason I posted on this site.
    I guess since this is a forum for discussion that I can drop the beans on who the character is so that you as peer readers understand my dilemmna.
    The man in the suit is known o the world as Melvin Syles. Syles is the CEO of an international information gathering corporation known as DataMax. DataMax has its hands in everything involving information ranging from electronic data to ancient writings of all kinds. Information retreival is the source of DataMax’s power.
    People know very little about Syles background except for that which DataMax has provided over the last twenty to thirty years. At best his history is simple and a story of rags to riches. Nothing too outre and nothing very spectacular. It is one of the American dream. It is perfect… too perfect in some regards.
    In reality Melvin Syles is really the Immortal Soldier, Cartefelius. He is the soldier who was cursed to walk the Earth until the story in the Book of Revelations came to be. He is unable to find eternal rest until after the second coming of the Christ. Thi is his curse along with the reminder of ever flowing blood that appears to him on his hands. Only Cartefelius can see the blood. Although he knows this he has the natural com[pulsion to wipe his hands off continuously. He tells people he suffers from compulsive disorder.
    More to the plot though, Cartefelius seeks to end his curse. He has spent the better part of history seeking out the seven seals of the apocalypse and breaking them. With these actions he seeks to usher in the end. Little does he know that this was all part of God’s plan anyways.
    Regardless, what he discovers is that a cult has uncovered an ancient text that will summon forth a great demon. Cartefelius knowsof this demon’s power and is desperate to stop this from happening. He knows that if this demon is summoned to Earth, all of creation will be cast into eternal Hell and damnation. Realizing that if this were to happen he’d be not only unable to locate the remaining seals, he understands that he would made to suffer along with the rest of humanity in this eternal nightmare. Being eternal himself he realizes that this could be for a very long time. Cartefelius has no desire to suffer worse than he already does for all of eternity. Hence he uses the power at his disposal through his corporation to track down a number of extra-ordinary people to help him stop this cult from summoning the demon.

    Without revealing more at this point I’ll stop here since it directly relates to the problem at hand. I guess I wanted to keep the character’s true identity a secret to the reader until later. Especially since the heroes will not be aware of his identity until closer to the end of the story when they realize that they have been manipulated.

    So that should explain a lot about the descriptions of his penthouse. I wanted to leave subtle clues to the character’s identity without actually coming forth and saying, “this is the immortal soldier”.

    B. MAC: Why did his hand start bleeding? I think this is supernatural, so it might help to be a bit more explicit at least the first time the supernatural comes up.
    FRANK: Again, hints – mystery. It must have worked because you are wondering.
    –I think B. Mac is wondering because he will probably spend tens of hours reviewing this work (he’s our main reviewer) and would like to know what’s going on. I don’t think a publisher will be as patient. More than 90% of manuscripts get rejected before the end of the first chapter. If a story hasn’t established that it’s going anywhere within a few pages, it’s dead on arrival. :-(

    My apologies. I misunderstood the voice of his resonse. Your point is understood and well taken. /FM

    –Instead of Constantinopolitan or Constantine, what would you think about Roman or Etruscan? I think those have the same old-world flair but are easier to read.

    Basically I’ll err on the excuse of ignorance. I used Constantanople because of it’s direct tie to the rise of Christianity. /FM

    B. MAC: I’ve been through 600 words of the story, about 2 pages and change. I don’t know much about this character except that he’s wealthy and might be supernatural.
    FRANK: Good. I have done my job conveying these things to you. That is two readers who are on board with my delivery.
    –He’s on board with your delivery? I think what B. Mac’s trying to say is that we’re being shown too little about this character too late.

    So I should shorten this piece up and eliminate the description. This will be very challenging.

    B. MAC: I don’t know what’s at stake.
    FRANK: Good. I do not want to give it away yet.
    –On one hand, I wouldn’t want you to rush out the main plot just yet. On the other hand, I think it’s critical to give the character some purpose, something to do. Right now, it doesn’t feel urgent or focused. An intermediate objective might suffice. For example, in Harry Potter, Harry had to deal with his obnoxious relatives before he found out that his main objective was to go to Hogwarts and defeat Voldemort. I think an intermediate objective might help give the character something to do before he has to go off and do whatever the main quest is. (You might find this article helpful).

    I wasn’t really wanting the character to have anything to do except die. Sort of like in a detective novel when the murder is committed to set the premise for the story. I do understand what you are saying though and it makes sense. I’ll try shortening the piece and see how the delivery comes off as I attempt to say more with less.

    B. MAC: I think the story gets a bit hard to read when he starts reminiscing about the very thought of his loss. I’m not sure what he’s lost, exactly, so I see a lot of raw emotions but I don’t know the reason behind any of them…
    FRANK: To be disclosed later. Again, more build up.
    –Readers might get annoyed that the story is coy with them. There doesn’t seem to be any in-story reason to withhold this information from the readers. The main character knows this information but is holding it back for no apparent reason. This goes to audience interest. I would recommend giving us enough that we care about his backstory. Right now, I don’t know enough to care. I just feel really confused. I would probably have put this back on the shelf towards the end of page 1. (Most novel manuscripts are rejected by the end of the first paragraph).

    Prhaps you are right. I do not want to come across like Piers Anthony.

    B. MAC: As he gets deeper into his emotions, his sentences get really long and his vocabulary becomes more advanced.
    –I’d recommend toning down the Lovecraft a bit. Some of these sentences were pretty convoluted.

    In many ways it was a pacing utilization. I sought to pick up the pace to inject upon the reader the urgency of the situation. From calmness to panic like he was having a heart attack. I’ll have to recollect myself before going back into the text and rewriting. I obviously was unable to demonstrate this to a number of people here. I did not have this problem in my college writing classes, but then again the writing snobs in the halls of academia had no appreciation for genre writing much less superheroes.

    Thanks for the input.
    /FM

  13. B. Macon 01 Feb 2009 at 7:38 pm

    I think there is too much mystery and not enough action. It’s definitely not an issue of your intelligence or talent… pacing introductions is always tremendously difficult. Besides, although I had some issues with your introductory scene, I think your synopsis and character outline look very promising.

    I don’t think that the character’s name has to be a problem. This is a superhero story, so your readers can handle a secret identity. If you’re comfortable revealing that he’s Melvin Syles at this point, that would work great. If not, you could make up another name like John and just later explain that it’s one of his aliases. John is really Melvin Syles and also Cartefelius. It’s a bit unusual for someone to have three separate names, but I think that readers could handle it for a main character.

    Your synopsis of the character is pretty neat. I like the character concept and he has an interesting and unusual goal: ushering in the end times. For his introductory scene, I think you could even adapt the problem of the imaginary blood flowing out of his hands by having him talking with an assistant… he talks to a private investigator, a scientist, a psychiatrist, a priest, etc. to try to solve his problem. That probably won’t work, but that’d be the hook that introduces Syles to the readers and draws him into his eventual plot to bring about the apocalypse. What do you think?

    I think it’d be ok if the audience knew (but the heroes didn’t) that the heroes had been hired by Syles. If neither the readers nor the characters know it’s Syles, then readers are probably going going to be underwhelmed by the eventual revelation that Syles has been the puppetmaster. “Who’s this guy Syles? Why should I care that he’s actually been manipulating the heroes?” In contrast, I think that if the readers know all along that Syles is manipulating them, then the readers will wonder whether and how the heroes will figure it out.

    What do you think?

  14. Frank Murdockon 01 Feb 2009 at 10:51 pm

    B. Macon wrote:
    I think there is too much mystery and not enough action. It’s definitely not an issue of your intelligence or talent… pacing introductions is always tremendously difficult. Besides, although I had some issues with your introductory scene, I think your synopsis and character outline look very promising.

    Thanks./FM
    I don’t think that the character’s name has to be a problem. This is a superhero story, so your readers can handle a secret identity. If you’re comfortable revealing that he’s Melvin Syles at this point, that would work great. If not, you could make up another name like John and just later explain that it’s one of his aliases. John is really Melvin Syles and also Cartefelius. It’s a bit unusual for someone to have three separate names, but I think that readers could handle it for a main character.
    Yeah, I gave that some thought and I think I know how I’m going to revisit this chapter. /FM
    Your synopsis of the character is pretty neat. I like the character concept and he has an interesting and unusual goal: ushering in the end times. For his introductory scene, I think you could even adapt the problem of the imaginary blood flowing out of his hands by having him talking with an assistant… he talks to a private investigator, a scientist, a psychiatrist, a priest, etc. to try to solve his problem. That probably won’t work, but that’d be the hook that introduces Syles to the readers and draws him into his eventual plot to bring about the apocalypse. What do you think?
    I think I am very glad I found this site. You and others have granted me the inspiration that I have lacked for a couple of months now. I am going to go and redo the Prologue and make the appropriate alterations and make some suggested additions. /FM
    I think it’d be ok if the audience knew (but the heroes didn’t) that the heroes had been hired by Syles. If neither the readers nor the characters know it’s Syles, then readers are probably going going to be underwhelmed by the eventual revelation that Syles has been the puppetmaster. “Who’s this guy Syles? Why should I care that he’s actually been manipulating the heroes?” In contrast, I think that if the readers know all along that Syles is manipulating them, then the readers will wonder whether and how the heroes will figure it out.
    Yes, you are correct. I have my idea and now I need to type it up. See you guys in a few days. Thanks again. /FM

  15. Black Caton 16 Jun 2009 at 8:17 pm

    I’m new here but I have no idea what is going on, I know there’s a Church involved. So is an agent of god?
    But I do really like the imagery it’s very well done.

  16. Missy.on 04 Dec 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Your description is execellent but slightly misplaced, you threw all of it- especially the description of his setting and clothes- in so early before we even knew his name, it sort of threw me off. Start adding the plot and suspense before going off about his accesories and stuff. XD That’s all I have to say. It’s quite good actually.

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